An even-par 73 in the final round of the Inova Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship was enough for Gina Kim to secure her first professional win on Sunday afternoon. The 2022 Epson Tour rookie finished at 11-under par to go wire-to-wire on the El Campeón Championship Course at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
“It definitely means the world to me,” said Kim, who had her mother [Sangsuk] on the bag. “Not just because it’s unexpected, but it’s a testament to how much work I’ve put in and progress I have made as a rookie.”
Despite a rocky start with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 5, Kim fought back. She carded birdie on No. 7, before a bogey on No. 9 to make the turn in 2-over par. At -9 overall, Kim was one back of the lead held by Maria Fassi. The back nine was a different story. Kim was unblemished and bookended the nine with birdies on Nos. 10 and 18.
The Duke University alumna finds the winner’s circle in just her fifth Epson Tour start. She discussed how lessons learned early in her pro career made all the difference.
“I was so impatient the first four months [after I turned pro], trying to make something crazy happen. I realized that you have to celebrate the small wins too. That’s why yesterday I was happy with what I had accomplished to that point,” said Kim. “This is the cherry on top.
“The whole round I told myself how proud I was of what I accomplished already. I achieved everything I wanted to [this week] in the first two rounds and proved to myself that I have the game and talent to be in contention. It was a perfect finish. I couldn’t be happier.”
Kim will celebrate by traveling to Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., where she is an on-site alternate for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I have the greatest opportunities to compete on the LPGA and Epson Tour. I found the lessons that I’ve learned out on the LPGA really helpful here. It’s the same competition and there’s the same amount of talent,” said Kim. “It’s good to find my principles and build my confidence back up.”
Caroline Inglis (70) and Maria Fassi (73) shared second place at 9-under par for the championship, while Dani Holmqvist (69) and Amy Lee (73) finished -8 overall and in a tie for fourth to round out the top five.
“Not very eventful, just pretty good off the tee and hit a lot of greens. Made more putts today than the other days,” said Holmqvist, who will tee it up next at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. “It’s great momentum and I love playing these [Epson Tour] events. It really is like a mini-LPGA [tournament with the competition] and the best way to prep for the LPGA, too.”